Rangers' special teams sink Lightning
Rangers coach Tom Renney wouldn't reveal what wrinkle was added to his team's struggling power play. Whatever it was, captain Chris Drury made the most of it.
Drury scored two of New York's three man-advantage goals and chipped in a short-handed tally for his second NHL hat trick, lifting the Rangers to a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
"I have to give a lot of credit to (assistant coach) Perry Pearn. He made some adjustments," Drury said. "He makes sure we're always prepared. Tonight it paid off."
Drury brought hats raining to the ice with 27.5 seconds remaining during a 5-on-3 power play that was earned after Lightning goalie Mike Smith slashed and high-sticked forward Aaron Voros in front of the crease and then fought him.
"You usually don't get hurt fighting but you might get hurt with a spear or slash to the back of the leg," Renney said. "It was completely unprovoked and I think Smith should be suspended."
The Rangers gave up five goals in the third period at Toronto on Saturday after leading 2-0, and then allowed two short-handed goals to the New York Islanders in the third during Tuesday's 2-1 defeat.
The power play had connected only 10 times in 74 chances before Thursday and never more than twice in a game, leaving the Rangers second from the bottom in NHL efficiency.
Ryan Callahan also had a power-play goal, and Marc Staal pushed the Rangers' lead to 4-2 in the third, 29 seconds after Ryan Malone got the Lightning within one for the second time.
Martin St. Louis had the other goal for the Lightning, who lost for the second straight night after a three-game winning streak. They are 4-2-4 since a pair of 2-1 losses to the Rangers during the season-opening series in the Czech Republic.
Henrik Lundqvist made 36 saves for the Rangers (11-4-1).
Nearly 90 seconds into their first power-play chance, Nikolai Zherdev fed a perfect pass into the slot to Callahan, who received it while crouching and fired a one-timer past Smith to make it 1-0 with 3:51 left in the first.
The Lightning didn't get a power-play opportunity until Zherdev was caught cross-checking 42-year-old agitator Gary Roberts in front of the Lightning bench 13:13 into the second. Before the retaliation, Zherdev had been roughed up by Roberts, Chris Gratton and Adam Hall.
But Drury pushed the Rangers' lead to 2-0 with New York's first short-handed goal of the season. He picked off a pass from Lightning defenceman Paul Ranger in the neutral zone and took off on a breakaway.
Smith dropped to his side in front of the charging Drury, who deftly moved to his right to get around the fallen goalie, and scored into an empty net with 5:37 left in the second.
St. Louis got the Lightning to 2-1 with 1:24 remaining, scoring his second goal in two nights. He scored against the Rangers in the opening game of the season and didn't net another until the Lightning's 4-3 shootout loss at New Jersey on Wednesday.
Drury restored the Rangers' two-goal lead 35 seconds into the third with his power-play tally. Malone made it 3-2 at 7:58, but Staal responded at 8:27.